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MOMS: Why You Need to Give Yourself a “Time-Out”

Not too long ago, I was talking with a mom and I was saying something about the books I was reading. She immediately shot back, “Oh, I love to read but I don’t have time to read because of my kids.”

My heart wanted to break right in two. Having kids is a lot of work. Trust me, I get that.

And it takes a lot of time and effort and work and sacrifice. Motherhood is no walk in the park.

Having your first child flips your world upside down and means that your schedule is no longer your own. You have a whole new set of responsibilities and to-do’s. Not only that, but you have a person who is now depending upon you and your spouse for their sole survival.

It’s a BIG thing. It’s nothing to shirk at. And it can suck the life right out of you — if you let it.

Which is why I’m about to say something that just might step on some toes…

Are you ready? Buckle your seat belts and hold onto your hats, because in the last few years, I’ve become pretty passionate about what I’m about to say:

Motherhood is a lot of work and responsibility, but it is NOT an excuse to stop using your brain and intellect, to stop enjoying life, and to stop taking time for things you love.

There, I said it.

It’s high time we quit using motherhood as a reason to no longer live life to the fullest, no longer feed our soul and intellect, to no longer enjoy hobbies and relationships like we once did.

Because here’s the truth: one of the BEST things you can do for yourself, your marriage, and your kids is to take time to refuel and refresh yourself. To stop and savor life. To make time for things you love.

Think about it. If you’re just constantly giving and giving and giving out to others, if you’re just pouring and pouring and pouring into your family, if you’re just wringing yourself dry to meet the needs of others and you’re never taking time to replenish, refresh, and refuel, no wonder you feel exhausted and spent!

No wonder you have nothing left to give. No wonder you’re so tired. No wonder you feel brain-fried.

No wonder you feel like you might just snap right in two if one more person asks you to do something or if one more child hollers “MOOOOOMMMMYYYYY!”

As women, we are capable of a lot. We can multi-task. We have “eyes in the back of our head”. We can pull all-nighters when our child is really sick. We can juggle a lot of balls.

But at some point, when a rubber band is stretched out too far for too long, it’s going to snap. At some point, when you keep running on empty, you are truly going to run out of gas and be stranded on the side of the road. At some point, the lack of sleep and running around like a chicken with your head cut off will catch up with you and knock you flat.

And that’s why I cannot say it strongly enough: Moms, give yourself permission to take time for YOU.

To do things you love.
To have coffee with that friend.
To work on that hobby.
To read that book.
To update your scrapbooks.
To work in the garden.
To S-L-E-E-P!
To piddle around in the kitchen.
To engage in stimulating discussions.
To study new things.
To try new things.

What fills you up? What refreshes you? What makes you come alive? What gets you really excited about life?

Set aside some things you think you “have” to do or “must” do or feel obligated to do to carve out some space to invest time into some of those things you truly love.

Investing in yourself is not selfish. Instead, it gives you more energy to be able to pour more into your relationships, your marriage, your job, and your kids.

P.S. If you wish you could find time to do things you love but you just don’t think you have any extra time at all in your schedule right now, I encourage you to check out Jessica Turner’s book, .

I got to read a pre-release copy of the book a few months ago and highly recommend it. It’s a must-read for all busy moms!

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This 14-day online course includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects and is designed to help you maximize your evenings in order to experience more success in your life, more order in your home, and more joy in your soul.

It’s time to stop sleep-walking through life and wake up to the amazing excitement and fulfillment that comes when you follow my simple plan to .

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86 Comments

  1. says:

    I just requested this book at my library! Looking forward to reading it. And as always, I relate to, and appreciate your encouragement, Crystal. You say things so well. 🙂

  2. says:

    I also read The Fringe Hours and thought that it had good ideas on how to find the snippets of time in your day.

    I must say that I’m also inspired by you. I see so many posts of the books you are reading and figure that if you are able to find the time, I definitely should be able to! I love reading your posts about what you are reading.

    If you really want to do it, you WILL make the time for it!

    • Jo says:

      Aw, you’re so sweet! I just finished another L-O-N-G post for tomorrow on what I read this week. I love sharing the book posts and it’s also great accountability!

  3. says:

    Sometimes as a mom I think we feel like we need to entertain the kids all the time. But both moms and kids can both use a little “me” time. It’s always fun to see how the kids get creative when they get their own time.

  4. Diane says:

    Great post. I needed it. Thank you.

  5. Melinda says:

    Years ago I received a promotion to Manager. When I was in training classes I remember a trainer saying that we all get the same amount of time in a day. We get to decide what to use that time on. Instead of saying “I don’t have time for that” instead we were instructed to say “I choose not to have time for that” because we all get the same time each day and we are the ones who choose how to spend our time.

  6. Jacks says:

    So please lay it out…what exactly do you say to your kids to make them give you some “you” time? I am (super) pregnant right now and my 4 yr old is a bundle of endless energy (read between the lines–no naps) and I can’t seem to get her to understand that Mommy just needs to chill out sometimes during the day, for both unborn baby’s health and Mommy’s mental health. Anytime I am not busy doing something around the house must automatically be “Mommy-play-with-me” time right? Maybe it’s because there’s no preschool option in our little town, and maybe it’s because she doesn’t have any other siblings (quite yet) but I am literally all she has when Daddy is at work. She isn’t a selfish brat in her attitude about it, and she definitely doesn’t “rule the roost” at our house, but I just literally cannot get her to understand about Mommy needing her own time sometimes.
    Please don’t read all this with a bitter tone…I am honestly just asking what in the world you do to get this through to your kids since I can’t seem to get this idea through to mine.

    • Lynn says:

      I am not sure what may work for you, but when my son was younger and my oldest was already in school all day it could be a bit “intense” sometimes keeping up with his energy level. He was no longer taking naps and I am the type that likes a few minutes of quiet time. I instituted “quiet/rest time” in our house without really explaining that was what was happening. After we had worn each other out (ha) in the morning and then had lunch, we had quiet time. Sometimes I would put a dvd on my laptop or portable dvd player in his room – yes, I guess with the second child you really are more relaxed, I would never have done that with my first but by the second I realized that he could watch a video while I took a minute and it would be fine. He could watch a video, color, read, play – whatever he wanted as long as it was quiet. Most importantly, I made sure I DID NOT clean or use this time to “get things done”. I just spent the time begin quiet myself. After a short while, I think he started looking forward to being quiet also!

      Also, I am not a morning person so I will never be one who gets up 30 minutes before my kids to do, well anything. I do however have a bit of a second wind in the evenings, so after my children go to bed I make sure to spend a few minutes just being quiet.

      I am not sure if either of these might work for you, but they are some ideas that worked for me. I didn’t think your post was bitter and I think Crystal’s post was well intentioned and meant to be encouraging, but sometimes it is hard to see how it can fit for you when you are in a different stage.

      • Jo says:

        Thanks so much for these great tips and ideas!

      • Jacks says:

        Thank you SO much for the ideas, Lynn!! I feel more encouraged already! 🙂

        • Christy says:

          This might sound weird, but I just laid down anyway (on the couch, in the same room) and closed my eyes. I have 4 under 6 years old, all boys, and by the third pregnancy I was totally done for, energy-wise, a lot of the time. As long as my eyes were closed, they might poke or stare (my oldest in particular has a habit of standing right at the couch, waiting for me to open my eyes), but they really mostly leave me alone. I’m more willing to turn on a PBS show now, but there was something about “Mommy’s eyes are closed” that signified, “she’s not going to answer.”

    • Tracy says:

      I so agree with starting a quiet time as part of your daily routine. When my son was that little he was full of energy and it was draining especially since I was going to College full time as well.

      During quiet time he would watch a program on Netflix or listen to a story on tape. After he got the idea of quiet time I would let him play with his big legos. It was the best thing for my sanity and his well being.

    • Fay says:

      I definitely agree with the “quiet time” suggestions. I really, really wish I had done this with my children. It is an excellent opportunity for them to learn to be calm and content. With a standard discipline every day like that, I believe the waits at appointments, etc. become much less frustrating for both Mom and kiddos as well. My school age children now struggle with being quiet for extended amounts of time. They continually want some kind of stimulating activity and no, we seldom permit any kind of electronic games or movies so that is not why the restlessness. I believe we simply failed to teach them to be quiet and entertain themselves when they were younger.

    • Amy says:

      Just a thought, how early is bedtime at your house? My kids had a 7:00 bed time up until they were in 1st grade and then it became 7:30. They would sleep until about 7 the next day. I read a fabulous book called “Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child”. Many people think if their child has an early bed time that they’ll wake up super early and that really isn’t true. Sleep begets sleep.
      I ask because I have friends that would wake w/ their children and their children would go to bed when they did. It wasn’t good because the kids weren’t getting the sleep they need and the parents (esp Mom) was worn out. There’s some valuable evening time available if kiddos go to bed at a early time. My kids are now 13 & under. I still send them to bed at 8:30 & they can listen to an Odyssey as the relax.
      Just a thought 🙂

      • Jo says:

        This is a great suggestion! Thank you for mentioning it. We’ve been experimenting with a much earlier bedtime for our kids this week and so far, it’s been a good change for all of us.

      • Christy says:

        We love this book, too! We have a 7:45pm bedtime for my crowd (all under 6 years old), but if it wasn’t for the church events that keep us out until 7:30, it would probably still be earlier. The one-year-old of the house (whoever it is at the time) almost always goes to bed by 6:45. Then my husband and I can clean the kitchen, watch something on Netflix (or whatever), and still go to bed at 9:30!

    • shannon says:

      Timers work amazingly well. Tell them you will set the timer for 20/30 minutes and this is ‘let’s play together time’. Then when the timer goes off, tell them it is play alone time. It is amazing how they get the concept of the timer and hearing that noise. You just have to be sure to follow through.

    • Star says:

      I recommend “quiet time bins,” one for each day of the week. They are simple shoebox size containers marked with the days of the week. I put a few simple toys and games in each bin. These bins only come out during quiet time. I didn’t buy anything new, just used what I had. I rotate them out with different things every month or so. I also recommend audio books from the library. Our kids LOVE them! We do quiet time every day from 1:00-3:00. It takes work to train your children to stay put, but it is so worth it! Good luck! You can do it!

      Also, check out Power of Moms for more ideas for quiet time. I LOVE what they have to say about it!

  7. says:

    Crystal, thanks for this post. So many moms need to hear it. I bought in to the constantly needing to pour out to everyone mentality for too long. I started paying the price for it. I am now trying to take time to pause and do some of those things I enjoy. I’m also trying to tell moms around me to take time for themselves and take care of themselves. Thanks for spreading this message to moms.

  8. Christy McKinney says:

    Thank you! Intellectually I know this, I just have to put it into practice. The toughest thing for me to do right now is to make time to exercise. I know its good for me and I know it makes me feel great, but at the end of the day I often choose to sit on the couch with a computer. Reading is easier for me to make time for (it doesn’t require much of my physical energy). Next on my reading list is “Strong Mothers, Strong Sons” by Meg Meeker. In fact, I need to go to the library tomorrow to pick it up!

    • Nichole says:

      Christy,

      How about starting with 7 minutes of exercise a day. That’s doable, right?

      I was feeling gloomy like the weather outside this morning and this 7 minute workout picked me up?

  9. says:

    I’ve been making time to journal again this year, using my devotional and also currently working through Living Well Spending Less. I am so happy to be back to actively learning!! I have 2 separate journals I use, and I am taking it SLOW. I absolutely look forward to that time every day!!

  10. says:

    YES! You are so spot on! This is why I keep coming back and reading your blog. 😉

    I struggled a lot when i first became a mother, with feeling guilty for having any interests outside of being a mom. It was like I didn’t even know you could learn new (non-baby related) things after motherhood, and to be quite honest it was SO depressing!

    Fortunately, I have a husband who understood that even moms shouldn’t lose their drive to learn and grow as individuals, and bought books for me on subjects he knew I was interested in before kids, and helped me get on the right track.

    Sure, being a mom makes you busier, but that just means that you have to prioritize what’s important to you – which is a valuable skill no matter what your stage of life!

  11. Kandace says:

    I loved Jessica’s book. And I love your message too. Thank you again for speaking such important truths to so many women who need to hear!

  12. Charity says:

    I understand what you are saying in this post but I actually find It very discouraging and a little hurtful. I’m sure I’m not the only mom out there who doesn’t have family, friends, or help. I am blessed with 7 children and a hard working husband (long hours). My oldest child just turned 9 and my youngest are identical twins who were born 2.5 months premature and are 6 months old now. They alone require so much time and attention from being preemies and spending the first 2+months of their lives in the NICU and being on oxygen and monitors and such (you can only understand this if you’ve lived it). My days are non stop. Full to the brim. I homeschool, our finances are incredibly tight, we have no family, we moved across the country less than a year ago (my husband’s job). This is all probably sounding quite jumbled and I’m not asking for a “hugs to you” response. I’m just saying that some moms aren’t in the stage of life for “me time” (which really sounds quiet selfish). I’m not miserable, biting have accepted that the days are long….the years are short. But Crystal, please realize that all of us aren’t traveling and speaking and going to Disney with friends while our children are at home and we aren’t having coffee with friends and snapping pictures and posting updates of ourselves for everyone to see. Some of us don’t have time for this because we are in the trenches of motherhood and we are going at it alone. Maybe you can’t understand but please be careful that you aren’t flippant with your “advice”.

    • Christine says:

      I appreciate Crystal very much and realize how she is trying to encourage other moms, but I alto thought with this post, that sometimes situations aren’t the same for everyone. I only have one child (who is grown now) but I have worked full time in the past. I take care of most of the yard work, do all the finances, all the housework, all the laundry, grocery shopping, etc. I also have worked part time for many years. I do not get help from my husband. He is a great husband in many other ways, but he does not help in these things. At this stage of my life, I had a whole lot of free time and we are empty nesters, but I thought back to how my life used to be and some of us just are in different situations.

    • Ellen says:

      I have had several seasons of life when I couldn’t apply Crystal’s advice either. Sometimes our roles and responsibilities don’t leave us with any “fringe” at all. Caring for my baby after he had emergency open heart surgery along with his three older siblings — it was beyond intense! I can’t speak for Crystal, but it was helpful for me to recognize those times as seasons rather than a complete identity change. When there’s an inner desire for growth and personal development, we will pursue it as the seasons change.

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m sure she understands that moms are busier at certain times of their lives than others. She’s not saying take 2 hours of me-time a day or anything specific. I took it as an encouragement to be creative with the things *I* like, not to do everything she listed. Maybe you can have the older children buddy up with the younger toddlers while the twins sleep or are being played with by responsible siblings. Make it clear that you are going to pray or read or write a letter for 15 minutes in your room, and put people in charge to make sure rules are being followed. Give a surprise if they behave or something. I have done that with my children and they take pride in being “in charge. ” let me encourage you not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but take crystals advice as encouragement to try and change something, even 15 minutes, and see if it you like it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

      • says:

        Rebecca, I love your attitude and view point. 🙂 As a single girl who was going, going, going all the time; this advice would have applied to me 4-5 years ago. I was working full-time and had 3-4 par-time jobs. However, running myself to the ground did not help matters at all.

    • says:

      I think it’s a little different when your children are babies, Charity. There is less time when you have infants. I don’t think Crystal is trying be flippant – I think she’s trying to say it gets better. This is a season, and seasons don’t last forever, even when they feel never-ending.

      Like you, I live hours away from family. My family is six hours away, my husband’s family is 10+ hours away. I stayed home when my boys were little, stretching our income to the brink. I know what it’s like to have a date night once a year because it’s hard to find a sitter for the kids. But I think trying to carve out time for yourself, even if it’s five minutes, is important. When you’re wrapped up in motherhood to little ones, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning. I’ve been there. When my boys were toddlers, I remember sitting by the bathtub, reading for just a minute as they played, looking up after every sentence or two. I might have read one book a year, but it was a little something for me. Hang in there! As they get older, you will find more “fringe” time.

    • Diane says:

      I had preemie twin boys 18 mos ago and the first 6 mos were the hardest, it’s still hard but nothing like the first 6 mos. I hear you. I don’t know how doing anything other than laundry, cooking, bare minimum cleaning can occur while nursing twins and homeschooling. I think it can still apply by carving out 5 minutes for tea, or something but yes it is very busy and moms of singletons probably won’t ever quite grasp how intense it is .

    • Roxanne says:

      Charity,

      I fully understand. One time, many years ago, I posted a similar comment on Crystal’s blog.

      I work full time, homeschool all our children, and do everything dealing with the house and finances. My husband is also a great man, and when I (very infrequently) admit that he works only, he sounds like a cretin. But he is not the type to wash a dish or shovel a walk.

      My me time is when I sleep. For me to carve minutes away from our kids, house, or husband would mean something would legitimately suffer.

      Different people have different lives. While my family lives nearby, they are no support. It is easier to just soldier on with a cheerful heart and not dwell on all the support and help other women have that enables them to have free time.

      I just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

    • Jo says:

      A few responses I wanted to share after I read your post:

      1) I definitely understand that all moms are in different seasons of life, but I think ALL moms need to be pouring into themselves in some way, shape, or form or they are going to have nothing left to give to their family. This could be just five minutes every day or every few days, but taking time to refresh our spirits in the midst of a busy life can make a world of difference.

      2) I know that you take time to read and comment on this blog (and possibly others). If that’s not refreshing your spirit, I’d encourage you to replace that time with something that does. If you’re doing it while nursing, maybe listening to music or the Bible on CD, or reading a book, or listening to an encouraging podcast. I know that this blog is not for everyone and if where I’m at in life and what I’m sharing on is only causing you to feel envious, hurt, or frustrated, I encourage you to replace reading here with something that encourages you in the season of life you’re in.

      3) You probably have often, but just in case it’s not been something you’ve considered: Have you prayed about God providing some help/relief for you? I truly believe that He doesn’t want moms to live life feeling completely maxed out, alone, overwhelmed, exhausted, tired, and worn down for years on end. And I’ve seen Him be so faithful to provide help/support/friends as I’ve cried out to Him. Sometimes I prayed for a few years before the answer came, but He has always provided.

      4) Please know that the intent of this post was not flippant or to be hurtful. I had my husband read it with me before I posted it to make sure that it came across in the manner I wanted it to and he strongly encouraged me to post it. I know sometimes that it’s hard to read tone via a computer screen, so please forgive me for upsetting and hurting you. I am truly sorry!

      I’m praying for hope, encouragement, and support for you this morning!

    • Kim says:

      Charity, while I haven’t been in your shoes, I had a moment in my life where I feel I can relate. While I was homeschooling, working part time out of the home, cooking all meals and snacks from scratch due to multiple food allergies in my house, we took on a NICU foster baby that was in and out of the hospital and was on every machine imaginable. Lots of sleepless nights from machines beeping at me and all-nighters because he had to be hospitalized a lot. I got no time to myself, and my “me” time was 1 or 2 minutes a day to sit and sip coffee, read a verse in my Bible and take a couple deep breaths while the baby was sleeping and my other kids were watching a movie. But looking back, I loved taking this time for myself, and I know God totally met me there, encouraged me during this time that I was where he put me, and I always seemed to find relief when I really needed it. Sometimes even just listening to a favorite song while I took a short shower was enough to lift my spirits and make me feel rejuvenated. Try hard to not play the comparison games, even now with my life quieter, I always get discouraged when I compare myself to others. We all are on our own road and need different things. I think the big picture in this post wasn’t that you need to be reading 2 hours a day, but that you need to do something every day that refreshes you and you love to do, something for yourself not for anyone else.

    • Guest says:

      You’re definitely right that not all moms have time due to a variety of circumstances. I think you’re also made a choice to live outside of the “conventional” family size and so that’s going to be different for you. In a few years, your kids will be older and able to help the younger and your time will look very different.

      If you find “me time” selfish, think of it as alone time. There’s nothing selfish about alone time and Jesus Himself modeled that when going to the garden to pray.

    • Guest says:

      I also thought of a blog I used to read that I thought might be a blessing to you. I say used to because she hasn’t written much in awhile but the archives are great. They have 11 children and homeschool.

    • says:

      Charity,

      Wow! Sounds like you are a busy lady. I know it might not be completely ideal, but I know some homeschool parents who have enrolled their kiddos in public school just for a season while life was really difficult (i.e. premmie twins :)). Just an idea!

      Also, if you have a church family, I would really encourage you to share with someone in leadership how overwhelmed you are and ask for help. Often there are people in the church who really want to help others, but simply don’t know how! I know if you or someone with your story was in my church and asked me for help, I would be over in a heartbeat (and so would many other ladies).

      I hope you find some solutions 🙂

    • says:

      What a hurtful and judgmental response from someone who is looking for “understanding.”

  13. says:

    Preach! Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thank you for just saying it like it is. I have journeyed to the same belief, and it is so refreshing to hear it here too. There is so much encouragement and reverence out there for moms being self-sacrificial that this other message of self-care and personal pursuit gets lost or painted as less noble. I don’t want to be a martyr for my children — I want to lead them from a place of health and wholeness. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jo says:

      “I don’t want to be a martyr for my children — I want to lead them from a place of health and wholeness.”

      Such a good word!

      • says:

        I soooo agree with these words. For me, my “me time” is working out. I’ve always loved to work out, always been athletic, and it has always been a part of my life. When I had my first child, I heard so many people talk about never losing the baby weight, never getting back to the gym, etc because they felt guilty leaving their child in the gym daycare area. All I could (and still can) think is — but this is ME. I work out. I love the gym. It refreshes my spirit and brightens my day. I’m home with my kids alllllll day long…why would I feel guilty about 1-2 hours in the gym?

        The answer is, I don’t. I’ve never had a single moment of guilt about it. And it isn’t about being in awesome shape or losing pregnancy weight fast or anything like that. It isn’t about the physical part at all. It is about holding on to a part of me that I had before I had kids, and continuing to be – for just a few hours a day – that same person.

  14. Jenn says:

    This did step on my toes, in a good way. My question is “WHEN?” When do I make time to replenish and renew? My children need me all the time. I can get babysitters, but I feel like I’m imposing on people (we don’t live near either set of grandparents) and I feel guilty for getting babysitters just so I can do something for “me.” So… I want to take this advice to heart; it makes sense to me that this is why my reserves run low so much of the time; but I don’t know how to make it happen regularly.

    Maybe I should read that book. 🙂

  15. Guest says:

    I can see how some moms might feel that this advice would come across as flippant. Maybe I can encourage you moms who are facing huge pressures right now. Here’s where this advice helps: Your time outs will not look like Crystal’s right now. When my twins were both nursing every two hours, or when I had my 6th child while still homeschooling 5 other kids, my “time outs” were much different than they are now! Usually a time out meant reading snippets of magazines my husband brought home from the library, while I fed the babies. Even something as simple as deliberately turning on a helpful radio broadcast while you cook supper can help keep you from getting stagnant and can brighten your life with creativity. And I have to make a confession: I love to read, and my time-outs are usually spent reading, but I almost always skim, and I give myself permission not to finish a book. 🙂

    • Heather says:

      I agree with “Guest” as an older mother who’s been there done that. Recharging changes and evolves as our life situations do. It can be as simple as going outside to water plants, or reading an article while nursing. A rare peaceful 15 minutes while making dinner. During those challenging phases of life, it is not about forgoing the care of our family but relishing the moments that bring us peace.

      • Jo says:

        “It is not about forgoing the care of our family but relishing the moments that bring us peace.”

        This is such wise advice! Thank you for sharing!

  16. says:

    I think this is not so much a “mommy issue,” as something indicative of women. How often do we factor in the feelings, time constraints, emotions, situations, or relationships we have or perceive we have with everyone around us? Everyday when my husband comes home from work, he takes a few minutes before dinner to decompress and compartmentalize his life outside our home. It took me several years before this dawned on me to attempt to do the same. For me, working out of my home office make a “time out,” something of a luxury as the days meld together, and when I leave one job I go right into another.

    As part of the #Choose30 Challenge this month, I am working on a morning routine, and I think next month will be the challenge of stopping work by 4 pm, and carving out time in my schedule for myself.

    When you think about it, everyday should include a self-time out, after all each day is precious, for we all exchanged a day of life for it! Thanks, Crystal!

    • Sarah says:

      Yes. Yes. Yes! My thoughts exactly. I’m not a mom and likely won’t be but I still get burned out taking care of work, school, church, home, and extended family responsibilities. I’ve lamented that I haven’t had a chance this month to sit down for twenty minutes with a good book or that I’m tired of having freezer meals, or I don’t have time for a walk before, during or after work (thank goodness I can squeeze in a little Moneysavingmom reading). It is so important to find time for those things that refresh and regenerate.

  17. Karen Rucker says:

    I think a lot of moms say that they don’t have time to read (or garden, or exercise) because they are busy doing something else they love. I know that I say I don’t have time to read when in reality I mean that reading isn’t a priority compared with spending time talking to my husband or playing board games with the kids or making a craft project. I didn’t give up my idea of self or decide I wasn’t worth spending time on. I just have less free time and have to choose how I spend it carefully. I read less now, since I prefer to read several chapters of a novel at a time and my kids interrupt me when I try to read. But I can crochet for a few minutes at a time without feeling frustrated so I do that instead. I watch fewer television shows, but I have several websites I visit regularly.

    I also think that some moms simply don’t have much free time at all. If your child is special needs, or you’re a single mom working two jobs and still trying to live within your means (so you want to cook at home instead of buying frozen meals), you’re just not gonna have a lot of free time. It’s not that you think you’re not worth taking time for. You just don’t have a whole lot of time to spare.

    What’s important to remember is that you are worth taking time for. Be it a few hours or just a few breaths to close your eyes and still your heart. You are worth it.

  18. Brittany says:

    I found you post today very encouraging. At times we do become overspent and think we can hold it all together because we are “women” and “mommies” and someone has to do it. My “fringe” may be short, but I think we all can find just a little. If we don’t we may explode into a rant and take it out on others. Be blessed.

  19. A Friend says:

    Another “Home Run” post Crystal! Don’t be discouraged by some of the comments. What you said about the rubber band….well, it’s clear that some of the moms are snapping because of the pressures on them and part of that snapping is being upset at your post. Moms who are in those desperate, lonely, excruciatingly hard seasons of motherhood need “fringe time” and things to recharge their batteries more than anyone else. Thank you for consistently modeling for us over the years that it’s okay to be a learning, growing, interesting person while being a mom!

  20. Antonella says:

    Why do we always seem to think that motherhood equals martyrdom? I really feel that’s one of the reasons people choose not to have kids nowadays…
    Well done, Crystal!
    🙂

    • K says:

      This is such a good point! I’m not a mother yet. My husband and I have been married for quite some time, but we are making a conscious decision to work full-time and complete graduate school (both of us) debt free before starting a family. It’s just what works for us. While it is frustrating to not have children like many of our friends do, it has also been a blessing to watch how others raise their children/handle their families. We are watching and observing closely to see what works & what doesn’t work for others, so that we can hopefully be prepared (as best as anyone can for parenting) to enter into the world of parenting. 🙂

      • Antonella says:

        K: exactly! For me seeing Crystal build a business, honoring her marriage, raising children and continuing to be an avid reader (!) is such an inspiration.
        I can be still myself if/when I have children/work at home etc. 🙂
        Learning from others is such a golden opportunity for growth.

  21. Stepahnie Tawney says:

    What great advice! Instead of setting on the computer or watching TV , take a few minutes to exercise, read, garden,etc. Go to that ladies meeting at church or that book club at the library. If we really look at the time we are wasting, there is time to do those little things. Children are a blessing and be a mom is awesome. Remember they see what you do , and what better way to empower them than to do these things with them or in front of them, When they are older they will see how much mom showed them that there is in life!

  22. says:

    Crystal, I schedule time for rest into my day just like anything else. I always tell the ladies who red my blog, it’s not a sin to rest. It’s actually good for you.

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of staying busy just to feel like we are fulfilling our roles as wives, moms and homemakers, but we must remember that our roles are who we are more than they are what we do.

  23. Kelly Hess says:

    We need to take that time and NEVER feel guilty for it! Last year was a lot of firsts for me, our kids are now 9,6, and 2. My husband and I took our first vacation together (only 4 days) since we had children and I took a girls trip with two of my best friends from college. Both were utterly refreshing and just what our marriage and my friendships needed! We pour so much into our kids, we have to refresh ourselves once in awhile. Another thing that has always been prominant in our house is that the kids ALL sleep in their own beds ALL night EVERY night and are in bed at bedtime. This gives my husband and I about two hours a night to relax, talk, and share time together!

  24. says:

    Great advice for all women, Crystal!

  25. says:

    Yes! I love this! Years ago, I joined an online group called Hello Mornings – they provide accountability groups and Bible studies for women who want to have daily time with God. Carving out that time early each morning to start my day with God has been life changing. As wives and moms and daughters and employees and everything else we do, we’re always giving – but we can’t give what we don’t have. We have to refuel. Recently I started knitting, and I love how soothing and relaxing it is. I love spending a few minutes on my lunch break or at the end of the day with my knitting projects, and my kids love seeing what I’m making.
    I’m adding this book to my reading list.

  26. Kim says:

    I totally agree! A mom may feel that guilt (at least I do…momentarily!), but I look at it as helping me keep sane so that my kids can benefit. I’m a single mom, and I already have enough guilt on not spending enough time with my kids, but I also have the responsibility of keeping myself healthy emotionally and physically for them. If people judge me for taking the time to do things for myself, then that’s their problem. I am the type of person that cares about what others think to some extent, but I don’t need to compare myself with anybody else. Everybody has their own race to run.

  27. Julie says:

    I agree, I homeschool my 8 and 10 year olds and I give them 1 hr. room time after lunch. This break helps all of us. We also put these two to bed at 7:30 that way I have time with my husband and 16 year old in the evenings.

  28. Cate R. says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Crystal. It is very hard on me mentally to make time for activities that refill and refresh me because I always have this sense that I’m not doing enough, and people can tell me that I am but I don’t believe it. Hubby works long hours and I am by myself with 3 little kids almost 24/7, and the responsibility of homeschooling looms over my head all while I’m sleep deprived, walking around in a daze all day doing things but not feeling a sense of accomplishment ever. Plus it’s kinda hard to break out a sewing project, for example, with a curious 10 month old underfoot.

    But I will keep these encouragments in mind.

  29. Sheila says:

    Could not have said it any better!!! Taking time for yourself is so refreshing.

  30. says:

    I recently read “The Fringe Hours” and agree completely. This is important for all women to make time for what we love. Jessica lays it out wonderfully in the book reminding us that all our fringe hours will look different in different seasons of life. Just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for us. It doesn’t make finding the time for our passions any less important. Get creative and find time to do what you love – even if it’s only 5 minutes here or there. As a SAHM mom of a 10 month old, I get this. I’ve started listening to audiobooks and that is just one way I’m finding and embracing my fringe hours. I truly believe all women can benefit from this beautiful message! Thanks for sharing this, Crystal.

  31. annie says:

    This is an awesome post. Your #2 response to a previous post us right on.

    For years I pushed myself to the brink. I ended up in the hospital for a week this past summer.

    This is a real topic. Thank you and Jesse for posting. I’m intrigued in the book.

  32. says:

    I so agree with this! For a LONG time I didn’t make time for activities that refuel me and It didn’t go so well. I felt very guilty for doing something for myself when my medically fragile child with special needs needs so much from me. Then I was at a support group and the facilitator said “We all want our kids to take good care of themselves. Where are they going to learn it from if you’re not taking time to take care of yourself and modeling that for them?”

    That was a lightbulb moment for me and since then I’ve been making a conscious effort to have the things in my life that I want for my kids, take care of myself, do something I’m passionate about, make family and good friendships a priority, read.

    I don’t have a lot of extra time at all because of the extra care my son requires and I’m not able to do a lot of the things I would really want to do to be rejuvenated. My reality is what it is. But I’ve learned even though It may not look exactly how I want it or what others are able to do I can still do something to rejuvenate and refuel regularly and having that mindset has been a huge help.

  33. Monica says:

    Such a great post! It reminds me of an article I read awhile back that really changed my perspective on this issue!

  34. Carrie says:

    This was an interesting post and I really enjoyed all the different comments from people. I will say for the people who feel that there is just no time to do things, I get it. I was that mom years ago.

    I’m a single mom taking care of all five of my kids by myself. I work full-time. Their dad spends very little time with them and doesn’t even take them all at once. So I never get a break. If the kids get sick, it’s only me who takes off. I have family close by but they do not help me. I can’t take off and have a day to myself because I have to save my vacation time for when my kids are sick.

    But…my kids are getting older and now I have older ones that can babysit for awhile. I no longer have to get up at night and nurse babies. I don’t have to watch my kids every minute of the day. I can now read a book in my room. I can sit on my deck while my kids play in the yard. It does get easier. Maybe you can’t spend a lot of time for yourself now, but it will come.

    And for those of you who are in the place in your life where you can help, if you notice us moms who are struggling, it would mean the WORLD to us to please offer to take our kids and give us a break. Offer to babysit when our kids are sick and we have to go to work. Offer to make us dinner or help with a project around the house. You have no idea how much that would bless us.

  35. Shauna says:

    As I read this post it was exactly what has been on my mind lately…especially as my children are getting a little more independent 9/7/5/3. I have actually been looking for time to update my daughter’s photo albums/scrapbooks. I give myself a deadline of my children’s 8th birthday and when I saw that on your list of examples I thought Heavenly Father is telling me I am on the right track and make that time.
    I hate when I say, “I don’t have time” because really I just need to use it more wisely. I am going to try this weekend to get a better schedule in place for myself to get things done and use my time wisely. I am just terrible at not having my expectations right for what I can actually get done.

  36. Johanna says:

    I appreciate your honesty in your post. I remember when my children were just babies, and it was hard to take breathe 🙂 The Lord wants us to be filled and full of his enduring love throughout our day. I have found that the morning hours are the best time for me do just that, even if its 15 minutes before the kids wake up to spend time praying, journaling and reading some verses.
    I tried to get this at my library, but its not there just yet, I will keep checking.. I am reading another great book that you showed us on your blog, Own your Life, by Sally Clarkson. WOW! Such a good book, right where the Lord has me right now. Owning exactly where I am at and as a mom, wife, family, homeschooling and in serving! LOVE it!
    Thanks again!

    • Jo says:

      So glad you’re loving Own Your Life!

      And yes, starting out my day with time in the Word has been one of the best foundations for my days. I wrote a little about this just yesterday on Instagram:

  37. Katie L says:

    I have been blessed by older women who volunteer(ed) to watch my children so I could take a break. When I had little babies, when my husband was deployed, the encouragement to “take time for you!” was so hard to hear, because I didn’t know how I could possibly do that. I am so thankful for the women at my church who made sure I had some time to go for a run, or just sit and drink a coffee. I hope to be able to do this for mommas when my children are older. Especially single moms, moms of littles, moms whose husbands travel, or moms who don’t have extended family nearby. I encourage anyone out there with some extra time to bless moms in this way! It is an incredible thing to know that there are other adults who love your children and want to spend time with them, and it’s an essential thing to be able to recharge.

  38. Melissa says:

    This is such a good post and definitely something I struggle with! I say I don’t have time to work out with two toddlers and a full time job but the truth is I just need to evaluate my fringe time… As I sit here cuddling with the little one who decided his teething is shortening his nap today

  39. Nichole says:

    Right now I occasionally take a 15 minute when I lay down my daughter for her afternoon nap. Listened to the idea in the link above.

    Also, love listening to Art of Simple and Inspired to Action podcast.

  40. Guest says:

    Love this post so much. I would take it a step further and say that as mothers we have a responsibility to model healthy behavior. It isn’t healthy for anyone to be so consumed with another person that they lose themselves. A very wise mentor once commended me for modeling for my kids that everyone needs to spend some time alone, recharge batteries and do things they love and that includes parents.

  41. Ashley says:

    Most of my reading happens during breakfast. I am not a morning person, and I really need some time to sit and relax before I feel ready to start doing things. While my girls eat cheerios and watch Winnie the Pooh, I sit nearby and read.

  42. says:

    We go to the library and I kick back to read while they search around on their own. We go to soccer practice and I crochet instead of socializing (sometimes). They get screen time and I get writing time. It gets easier as they get older.

  43. agree 100%. and that’s why i did something really weird and always let my babies nap on me. when they would nurse to sleep and nap on me then it was my time to read, to plan, to recharge my brain. as i had more and more children, i kept doing it. now there are 5 of them ages 5-13 and i homeschool and have plenty of time to be a work-at-home-mom on top of that. your time will come for tons of free time and you will miss the baby days, but during the baby days taking time for you doesn’t have to mean leaving the house if you don’t want to. you can find other times and ways to keep your sanity and your brainpower!

  44. Star says:

    I am a mom of 3 (ages 6, 4, and almost 2) and I’m 7 months pregnant with #4. Since I can’t get up before my children at this season in life, quiet time in the afternoon is a priority in our home. I am a better mom when I have down time to read my scriptures, read for personal enjoyment, or rest. I get a little nap in almost every day and I don’t feel guilty at all!

    As for the “how” part…

    Schedule quiet time into your daily routine. Do it every single day! It takes training, but you can do it!

    Sync up naps for younger children. Not easy, but worth the effort.

    WORK WITH YOUR CHILDREN to get household chores done so you can use your quiet time to recharge. Yes, it is harder, but make it a fun learning experience. Don’t underestimate how much your child can do to contribute! You don’t have to do it all! For example my 6 and 4 year olds fold and put away their own laundry! It takes training, but the effort is so worth it.

    Consider trying simple quiet time bins (one for each day). My 4 year old daughter does well with these. There are lots of ideas online and you don’t have to buy a bunch of new things. One of my daughter’s favorite bins has a container of different color/shape buttons. So simple, but she comes up with all sorts of ways to play.

    Audio books from the library are amazing! My older son loves them. He especially loves the A to Z Mysteries series.

    Here is a link to the best quiet time post I have ever read:

    There are lots of details about how to make it work.

    Good luck ladies! You can do it!

  45. says:

    Amen, Crystal! I just heard Jessica speak about her book on The Inspired to Action Podcast and it sounds fantastic. I struggle a lot to make time for myself in this season of my life and her encouragement and yours is very much appreciated. Thank you.

  46. Melissa says:

    Mothers who have husbands who not only don’t help out, but drain her emotional energy more than the kids do have trouble recharging as any extra time and energy is sucked dry. This is a big problem. I imagine single moms also have trouble recharging.

  47. Jenni says:

    I appreciated this post. I don’t know why it is so hard for moms to feel like it’s okay to take time for themselves, but I know I struggle with it. My husband is even supportive of it, but I have a hard time speaking up sometimes and making my need for time like this known. I think that when you have a lot of small kids, you have to be proactive and intentional about protecting these times for yourself.

    I know that for me, it is hard to work on things sometimes during the day because I know I will be interrupted by my kids, and at night I am too tired to work on the projects. So for me, in order to find that fringe time, I have to sometimes ask him to take the kids out of the house, or agree to be “on duty” with them while I work on my project somewhere else in the house (and sometimes even with the door locked!)

  48. Pauline says:

    I think there are many of us, who long for sure breaks/time, yet lack in extended family that could/would help, tend to the children. Years ago, special friends of mine, just didn’t understand, that planning nights out, where I couldn’t bring along our kids, just didn’t work. With a hubby gone substantial hours, often morning, noon, and night…no one to be with our kids for me to enjoy such times, and too much responsibility to always rely on older one to care for the rest. I do think it’s so important whether paid or unpaid that ALL mothers, get rest, respite, etc. yet not always the case. Years now have passed without much relief at all, as I lost both my parents 5 months apart from one another, when I was just 25. I learned some, believe if you’re home, you’re playing all day, even, if you watch the entire neighborhood of children, for free! 😉 It makes a difference in being able to take a time out, if you have family. Also, I’ve never found tending to my own family’s needs and many others, that ever, was I not intellectually challenged or stimulated, yet do know what you mean. I’ve tried to always learn new things to benefit those around me. I so appreciate your article and what you advocate!!!! God bless!

  49. Tabbetha says:

    This is something that I am personally working on for myself. I am always on hyper drive because there is between what I need to do and what I want to do. So I am making it my goal to work on many different aspects on myself so I can be a better person, mom, and wife. I also requested this book at my local library and I am very excited to read it. Thank you so much for this post. It makes a lot of difference in my own life, as well as others. 🙂

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